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Sunday, December 27, 2009

I Apologize

I must apologize to all you who follow this blog as I have been lazy in writing lately. I picked up a new hobby of knitting and was busy knitting Christmas gifts. Now that Christmas is over I should be back up and writing on a regular basis. Thanks for your patience.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thanksgiving Day Feast



(this is a re-post of a previous post)




We had an early Thanksgiving at my house this year. My parents were in town this last weekend and my husband will be working on Thanksgiving day so we figured we should have our feast early. Every family has their own traditions when it comes to what food is served. Some of these foods have been in the family for generations and others are some you create with your own family. Here is what we had:


The turkey is of course the staple, unless you are a vegetarian. Ours this year happened to be a wild turkey my husband managed to get for us. I have never prepared a turkey before and since my mother was in town, I still haven't. So, I unfortunately can't give you any tips or advice on this. You can however look here to find out how to cook a perfect turkey.

It just wouldn't be Thanksgiving for my family without the Stove Top Stuffing. My Dad has never liked the taste of cornbread stuffing so growing up we always had Stove Top. My Mom would even prepare it when we were together with extended family and serve it right next to my Aunts homemade stuffing. I too prefer Stove Top so that is what we had. If you want to make homemade stuffing give this Southern Cornbread Stuffing a try.

I am not a fan of cranberry sauce but for some reason it just doesn't seem like Thanksgiving without it. My Mom loves the jellied kind so preparing it was as simple as opening a can and slicing it up. You can see a recipe for fresh cranberry sauce here.

With this meal we also had mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potato casserole, rolls, fruit salad, and pumpkin pie. I will provide the recipes for these in the following posts.

What are your favorite Thanksgiving day foods?

Family Holiday Fruit Salad


This is my Great Grandma's recipe and it makes a lot so you can half it for smaller groups. The nice thing about this salad is the fruit doesn't brown so it still looks nice for leftovers.
Family Holiday Fruit Salad

4 large cans fruit cocktail
2 Large cans pineapple chunks
4 small cans mandarin oranges
½ bag miniature marshmallows
5 bananas
16 oz of whipping cream
2-3 Tbsp. Corn starch
Sugar
Vanilla

Drain all of the can fruit and reserve 2 1/2 cups of juice. Add about 2-3 Tbsp cornstarch to 1/3 cup cold water stir until lumps are gone. Heat the reserved juice to simmering. Once it is simmering, add the cornstarch mixture. As it comes to a boil stir until it is a thick consistency. If it doesn’t thicken add more corn starch mixture. Allow to cool completely. Whip the cream to a whipped cream consistency; add sugar and vanilla to taste. Mix it into the cooled fruit juice mixture. Place the drained fruit in a large bowl, add marshmallows and sliced bananas. Fold in the whipped cream dressing and serve immediately.
I chose to garnsh the top with more oranges and cherries.

Sweet Potato Casserole


I had never had sweet potatoes until after I was married. My husband's family always had them with their Thanksgiving. This recipe is one I got from one of my high school friends mom. It's so good it could be served as dessert.

Victoria's Sweet potato casserole

4 C. sweet potatoes cooked and mashed (2- 2 1/2lbs.)
1 egg beaten
6 T. firmly packed brown sugar, divided
6 T. melted butter or margarine, divided
2 T. orange juice
1/2 t. salt
2/3 C. chopped pecans (opt)
Miniature marshmallows

Combine potatoes, egg, 3 T. sugar and 3 T. butter, orange juice, and salt; beat until fluffy and light. Fold in 1/3 C. pecans. Turn into buttered shallow oven-proof casserole pan. Sprinkle remaining nuts, butter and sugar over top. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Add marshmallows for topping last 15 min.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Surviving Black Friday



My favorite day to go shopping is on "Black Friday", the day after Thanksgiving. I can usually get all of my Christmas shopping done on this day. I love the excitement that you can feel in the air and of course the fantastic deals. Nothing can clear your head better than standing outside in the cold winter air at 4 AM waiting for the doors to open. If you are thinking about shopping on this day here are a few tips to help you survive Black Friday.


  • Make your gift list and review your holiday budget. If you want more information on creating a holiday budget look here.
  • On Thanksgiving day, while the men are watching football, lay out all of the ads that came in the paper. If you don't get delivery you can pick up the paper at any gas station or grocery store.
  • Search for the best deals on the gifts you want and circle them or better yet, write it down and list the price and what store it's at.
    Make a plan. Determine what store you want to go to first paying attention to the times they open.
  • I highly recommend getting a group together to go shopping. Divide and conquer. Have one person stand in the checkout line while the others do the shopping. Assign one person to go to electronics, another to toys, and another to clothing, etc.
  • Carry as little with you as possible. Take an ID and one credit card and a little cash and just put it your front pocket. The last thing you want is having your wallet stolen or misplacing your purse.
  • Be prepared to wait in long lines. That's why I recommend having someone wait in line while another does the shopping. Last year the line at Kohls was 2 hours long when my sister and I finally got in line. We didn't want to wait so we stashed our goodies under a table and came back an hour later when the lines were less.
  • Wal-mart price matches so if they carry a item that is advertised for less at another store and you don't want to drive all over to get your gifts, just take in the ad with the price and they will honor it.
    Most Wal-mart stores are open 24 hours so you can get there in plenty of time. However, the sale items are wrapped in paper or plastic until the designated time. So, I go around and gather my price match items and then position myself by the pallet that has my number one item on it and wait.
  • Never ever leave your cart unattended. I made the mistake of turning my back on my cart for a minute and when I turned around I realized someone had taken one of the items out that was sold out. My daughter did not get her Cinderella Barbie that year.
  • Please be courteous of others and use good manners.
  • Have fun!

Christmas Lights


I know what you are thinking, it’s still November, why are you talking about Christmas lights. Well, I'm talking about Christmas lights because most people put up their holiday lights the day after Thanksgiving and if you have your lights all boxed up I suggest getting them out now and making sure they all work. Untangle those wires and check every bulb. Should you come across any shorted lines, missing bulbs, broken bulbs, or just want more lights (I personally think you can never have too many) then save some gas and do your shopping at The Christmas Light Source. I recently got some of the multi colored ice cube shaped LED Christmas lights for my son’s room. I got tired of the white plug in night light and wanted something a little more fun.

The great things about these lights are:

  • They don't get hot to the touch like the incandescent ones so I don't have to worry about my children burning their little fingers.
  • They are also energy efficient so if I forget to unplug them (which happens often) they don't use up a ton of energy.
  • I also love how they have a hard plastic covering that won't shatter when, not if, they get stepped on.

Now, what do you do with your broken and old Christmas lights? You recycle them of course and The Christmas Light Source can help you do this. Recycling through the Christmas Light Source doesn't only help out the environment; it helps put books in the hands of children in need and saves you 10% on your next purchase. You can read about their Christmas light recycling program here.

Don't be left in the dark with broken or missing lights. Visit The Christmas Light Source and light up your house this Holiday season.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

No Peeler Required Potato Peeling

I got this video in an email. Love the idea. Haven't tried it yet but the next time I need to peel a lot of potatoes this is the method I'm going to try. I think I'll pass this little tip onto my sister who has volunteered to make mashed potatoes for 100 this Thanksgiving.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

The-Women-in-Our-Lives

I look around me at my friends, family, neighbors and even strangers and realize I'm surrounded by amazing women. The Grandmother on my street who has so lovingly adopted me and my family while we are both separated from our extended families. The stay at home moms who manage to run a house, raise kids, and still have time to serve those around them in need. The women who have to go to work to support there family only to come home and start their second shift as mother. I see women dealing with trials in their life that I wouldn't be able to handle with a 10th of the grace they do.

I recently was introduced to a blog of an ispiring Woman. Her name is Stephanie and she writes The NieNie Dialogues. Some of you may have seen her on Oprah a couple of months ago. On her blog she wrights about her life, her children, and her joys and sorrows. Just over a year ago her and her husband were in a fiery plane crash that left her severly burned over most of her body. Some of her posts are how she deals with her new appearance and her healing body. This post brought tears to my eyes. Her testimony of God and his love for her ring true for me too. To all you women out there, I want you to know that you are amazing and that God loves you. You are one of his special daughters. Thanks for being such an inspiration to me in my life.

Click the following link for an inspirational message.
The-Women-in-Our-Lives

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Creating a Holiday Budget




The best part of holiday shopping is picking out gifts for everyone on your list. The worst part is when January comes along with the bills and you realize you over spent. One way to avoid the worst part is to create and stick to a holiday budget.


Step 1: Create a budget book. Add lined paper, dividers, and a zipper pocket (pens and pencil pouch) to a 3 ring binder. The paper is for taking notes and keeping track of things. The dividers are to separate lists or budget years. The zipper pocket is to hold all of your receipts.

Step 2: List Expenses. Make a list of each person you need to buy a gift for. This includes family, friends, teachers, and co-workers. Don't forget to make a list of other holiday expenses like: greeting cards, gift wrap, decorations, baking supplies for cookie trays etc.

Step 3: Set Limits. Evaluate what you spent last year or estimate what you spent last year and determine where you need to cut back and where you need a little more. Maybe you went way overboard with the cookie trays but needed a little more money for gifts. Make adjustments where necessary and then place an amount on everything. For example, $5 for teacher gifts, $10 per co-worker, $20 per extended family member, $50 for decorations. Maybe this year you can cut back on the number of cards you send out and send e-cards instead. Many people throw away the cards after the season anyway.


The most important thing is to do what is best for you. Don't compare your budget to someone else’s because everyone has different ideas and needs. Once you have your budget set make sure you keep track of everything you spend. You may go over on something but under on others. Make adjustments where necessary. Follow through with your budget to make sure there are no surprises come January.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Keeping your Kids Safe on Halloween


If you plan on having your children go Trick-or-Treating then there are a few things you should do to keep your kids safe on Halloween.

  • Have children carry a flashlight so they can see in the dark
  • Put reflective clothing or a glow stick on your child so people can see them.
  • Remind them to walk and not run. Costumes can sometimes hinder their ability to move and running will only cause more problems.
  • Remind them to stay on sidewalks.
  • Have them only approach houses that are lit.
  • Know where child predators and sex offenders live by looking it up online and avoid those areas.
  • Take your child instead of having them go alone.
  • Don't let them eat candy until after you have inspected it.
  • Remove any candy that is not age appropriate like jaw breakers for young children.
  • Instruct them not to eat any candy that is not wrapped.

If you are expecting Trick-or-Treaters make sure your yard, driveway, and sidewalk are free from things that kids can trip or get injured on in all of the excitement. Have your porch light on. Place your pets in a quiet location (see previous post for what to do with your pets). Turn your porch light out to signal you are out of candy or not serving candy.

I hope you have a safe and happy Halloween!

Fun Halloween Recipes

If you are attending a Halloween party or hosting one you are going to need some good and fun recipes. I do not have any signature recipes so here are some links to great websites that have yummy and fun Halloween Recipes.

Family Fun
Food Network
Wanda's Halloween Cookbook
Halloween on the Net

Hope you have fun.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Funfetti Popcorn

Yummy popcorn my sister shared with me. I decided to make it for teacher appreciation gifts for the teachers I work with at church. Attached to the bag was a tag that said "Thanks for being a popping part of our primary." It's one of those recipes that I don't have the exact measurements so I'll tell you what I did.
I popped 10 bags of microwave butter flavor popcorn and set it aside. Then I melted 6 (10 oz) bags of vanilla flavored (mine already had the sprinkles in it) melting chocolate. For the life of me I can't think of the name of the brand right now but it is the stuff you melt to do chocolate covered pretzels. You can find it in the candy making section of Michaels and Wal Mart. Once it is melted you pour it over the popcorn. Mix until the popcorn is coated then toss in several handfuls of M & M's. You do not want to many M &M's, just enough to add some more color. Then you pour the popcorn out of the bowl onto a table or counter covered in wax paper, tin foil, or Saran wrap to cool. After about 20-30 minutes you are good to go. This made approx. 35, large fist size popcorn balls. This would be great to have on your cookie plates you give to your neighbors during the holidays.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Snicker Apple Salad

This recipe is perfect for all the fall apples. It makes a lot so I like to take this recipe to pot lucks. It tastes like candy apples. I'm not sure if it is a dessert or a salad but I'm sure it could be served as both. One thing I'm sure of, it tastes delicious!
Snicker Apple Salad
4 oz cream cheese, softened
16 oz. cool whip
3 Granny Smith apples, cubed
3 Delicious apples, cubed
3 Snickers candy bars, cut into chunks

Mix all ingredients together. Serves 10-15

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Keeping Pets Safe on Halloween

Don't forget about your pets during the Halloween fun and festivities. I found this video about keeping pets safe on Halloween.

Aside from the helpful advice you get to see cute pets dressed up.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Halloween Party Idea


My husband and I were invited to a Halloween party last year but were unable to make it. After seeing all of the work the hostess' put into it I'm sad we weren't in attendance. Check out Life Frosting, the blog of one of the hostesses, and see all of the creative genius. They had incredible names for all of the food like Torn Skin Crisps, Rabid Dog Froth, Brains and Beans and many, many more. So, if you are a party person check it out. This site also has many craft ideas too.

I'm looking forward to seeing what they have planned for this years party.

Friday, October 9, 2009

33 Minutes to a Cleaner House

A friend of mine sent the following in an email to me. Who ever thought it up was brilliant. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

33 Minutes to a Cleaner House…

You're getting company in 30 minutes. Your house is a mess. WHAT WILL YOU DO?Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the first session of Housekeeping Tips for Regular People. If you're a Martha Stewart type of housekeeper, this column is NOT for you. However, for the rest of you, this is your chance to learn 15 Secret Shortcuts to Good Housekeeping that your mother never told you.

SECRET TIPS

1: DOOR LOCKS If a room clearly can't be whipped into shape in 30 days--much less 30 minutes--employ the Locked Door Method of cleaning. Tell anyone who tries to go in the room that the door is intentionally locked.CAUTION: It is not advisable to use this tip for the bathroom. Time: 2 seconds

2: DUCT TAPE No home should be without an ample supply. Not only is it handy for plumbing repairs, but it's a great way to hem drapes, tablecloths, clothes, just about anything. No muss, no fuss.Time: 2-3 minutes

3: OVENS If you think ovens are just for baking, think again. Ovens represent at least 9 cubic feet of hidden storage space, which means they're a great place to shove dirty dishes, dirty clothes, or just about anything you want to get out of sight when company's coming. Time: 2 minutes

4: CLOTHES DRYERS Like Secret Tip 3, except bigger. CAUTION: Avoid hiding flammable objects here.Time: 2.5 minutes

5: WASHING MACHINES & FREEZERS Like Secret Tip 4, except even bigger.Time: 3 minutes

6: DUST RUFFLES No bed should be without one. Devotees of Martha Stewart believe dust ruffles exist to keep dust out from under a bed or to help coordinate the colorful look of a bedroom. The rest of us know a dust ruffle's highest and best use is to hide whatever you've managed to shove under the bed. (Refer to Secret Tips 3, 4, 5.) Time: 4 minutes

7: DUSTING The 30-Minutes-To-A-Clean-House method says: Never dust under what you can dust around.Time: 3 minutes

8: DISHES Don't use them. Use plastic or paper and you won't have to.Time: 1 minute

9: CLOTHES WASHING (EEWWW) This secret tip is brought to you by an inventive teenager. When this teen's mother went on a housekeeping strike for a month, the teen discovered you can extend the life of your underwear by two ...if you turn it wrong side out and, yes, rerun it.CAUTION: This tip is recommended only for teens and those who don't care if they get in a car wreck.Time: 3 seconds

10: IRONING If an article of clothing doesn't require a full press and your hair does, a curling iron is the answer. In between curling your hair, use the hot wand to iron minor wrinkles out of your clothes. Yes, it really does work, or so I'm told, by other disciples of the 30-Minutes-To-A-Clean-House philosophy.Time: 5 minutes (including curling your hair)

11: VACUUMING Stick to the middle of the room, which is the only place people look. Don't bother vacuuming under furniture. It takes way too long and no one looks there anyway.Time: 5 minutes, entire house; 2 minutes, living room only

12: LIGHTING The key here is low, low, and lower. It's not only romantic, but bad lighting can hide a multitude of dirt.Time: 10 seconds

13: BED MAKING Get an old-fashioned waterbed. No one can tell if those things are made up or not, saving you, oh, hundreds of seconds over the course of a lifetime.Time: 0

14: SHOWERS, TOILETS, AND SINKS Forget one and two. Concentrate on three.Time: 1 minute

15: If you already knew at least 10 of these tips, don't even think about inviting a Martha Stewart type to your home.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Tips for Selecting Vegetables at the Supermarket

It’s frustrating to bring home fresh vegetables from the supermarket only to have them be less then ripe or overly ripe. To help you avoid this problem here are some tips for selecting the most common vegetables.

Onions- You want an onion to feel firm. The papery skins should be dry. Avoid onions that have soft spots or discoloration.

Peppers- Make sure the stem on peppers is bright green. You want firm bell peppers with tight skin.

Potatoes- Avoid potatoes that are soft or have wrinkled skin. Firm potatoes are best. You definitely don’t want to buy potatoes with sprouts, or a green tinge. The green is an indicator that it isn’t ripe yet. If possible, buy them individually because when buying in the bag you can get bad potatoes.

Corn- Looking at the outside of the corn cob you want tight, bright-green husks. The silk should be moist and a golden brown color. Avoid the dark brown silk. When you pull back the husk, you should see tightly packed, juicy kernels.

Cucumbers- If possible, don’t buy the waxed cucumbers. You will know it is waxed because it will have a shiny sheen and you can feel the wax. Cucumbers should be firm without wrinkles and soft spots. They can have variable color from light to dark green. The best ones are around 6 inches long.

Summer Squash- Whether you are selecting the yellow or green variety, choose squash that is about 5-6 inches in length. The bigger it is the more watery and fibrous it becomes. You want firm, smooth, and shiny squash.

Lettuces- Most people do quite well selecting lettuce. Avoid the brown, wilted lettuce.
Beans- You want firm, spot free, wrinkle free, bright pole beans. When you bend them they should snap.

What other tips do you have for vegetables that I have not included?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sweet Pork Enchiladas


This recipe is one of the most shared recipes I have. I will share it with someone and then they will share it and so on. One reason is, it is so easy to make. The other reason is, it is full of flavor. What could be better than tender sweet pork accompanied by cheese that just melts in your mouth?


Sweet Pork Enchiladas
3-4 lbs pork (roast, ribs, whatever)
1 C. brown sugar
1 C. salsa
10-10 inch tortillas
Shredded Mozzarella
1 Can green enchilada sauce

Place pork in slow cooker and cover with sugar and salsa. Cook for 6-8 hours or until it shreds easily. Drain juice off pork. Roll shredded pork and cheese in tortilla and place in pan. Pour enchilada sauce over and sprinkle with any remaining cheese. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. We serve it with sour cream and additional salsa.

Sometimes I cook extra pork and use the pork the next day for pulled pork sandwiches. I just add the cooked pork to a pan and heat through. I then add KC masterpiece Barbecue sauce until it is the consistency I want. This is as good or better than the kind you can buy pre-made in the store.

This cooked sweet pork is also good as the meat on a salad.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family and friends do. Don't forget to share this recipe and site with friends.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

What to do with all of that Halloween Candy


As a child I think Halloween was second to Christmas as my favorite holiday. It was so fun to dress up and go door to door and get free candy. What child wouldn't like to do this? I don't really remember my Mom and Dad limiting my candy consumption in any way. I always gave them a few pieces of their favorite candy, Mom- York Patties and Dad- Mr. Good bar. The chocolate was always the first to go and the last for me were the Sweet Tarts. I'm more of a sweet fan than a tart fan. I digress. What do you plan to do with all of that Halloween Candy your children are sure to bring home?

I am one who tires of hearing I want candy..... All day every day until it is gone. So, here is what I do.

I make sure my kids eat a healthy, normal dinner before they head out. While we trick or treat they can eat 2 pieces of candy (that I inspect first). Once we get home they get to go through their candy and share with mom and dad (my favorite part). If it is a school night they may eat a few more pieces and then it is off to bed. When it is not a school night, like this year, I let them eat to their hearts (and stomachs) content. The next day whatever is left gets put into a big bucket and the candy is then used as rewards for various things. I potty trained my son with his Halloween candy as the reward. I put the candy out of site with the hope of out of site out of mind. Sometimes there is enough candy leftover for Christmas stockings.

It is ultimately up to you the parent to decide how much and when your children get to eat their candy. There is one big thing you should do though to eliminate any whining and complaining about the rules you impose. Lay down the rules and make sure each child understands before they even head out the door.

What do you do with all of the candy? Do you let your children eat it whenever or do you ration it out?

And don't forget to turn off your porch light if you are not handing out candy, not home, or out of candy. This will keep trick-or-treaters from ringing your doorbell all night.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Money Saving Tips for Halloween



Do you find yourself every Halloween spending oodles of money on your child’s costume or on the goodies to hand out to the trick or treaters? I don't know about you but it really irks me to spend $15 or more (I'm really cheap when it comes to buying something that will only be used for one night or maybe a couple of dress up times) on a costume just to have the price slashed the day after Halloween to 75% off. So, every year I vow to buy the costumes for the next year the day after Halloween. You will also notice the price of the candy slashed the day after Halloween. Candy has so much sugar and preservatives in it that if you buy it when it is on clearance and put it in a cool/dry location it will last until next Halloween. Doing this you can cut your costs by at least half.

Some other ideas for saving money on Halloween:


  • Do a costume swap with friends and neighbors. Trade your previously warn costumes for someone else’s costume.

  • Find costumes or items to create costumes at thrift stores. My cousin used a table cloth to sew a costume for her child. The cost of the table cloth as 50 cents compared to the fabric at $2 or more per yard.

  • Buy decorations the day after Halloween for the next year. If you buy a little bit at a time, eventually you will have collected quite the display.

What are some ways you save money on Halloween?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Yea! It's Friday

Everybody needs to dance. The weekend is here. And, feel free to laugh.

This could have been my baby. She loves to dance. Now that you are smiling and feeling good get off the computer and do something fun with a loved one.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Corn Bread

Corn Bread

6 cups Marie Callendar Corn bread mix
2 Cups water
1 can creamed corn
Mix all ingredients. Pour into a greased 9x13 pan and bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes.


This corn bread goes great with Chili's and soups. It is so most and tastes like it was made from scratch. Try it with the Chicken Tortilla Soup that is pictured with it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Fall is officially here and I love making soup when the first cold spell hits. It really hits the spot. The best thing about this soup is it is so easy to make. You just open up cans, dump, season, and stir.


Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 Can chicken broth
2 Cans chicken or 2 chicken breasts cooked and shredded
1 Can Stewed Tomatoes
1 Can cream of chicken
1 can black beans
1 can pinto beans
8 oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove pressed or
1/2 tsp garlic salt
2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder

Combine all ingredients and heat until warm. Serve with tortilla chips, grated cheese and sour cream.
Hints: Place raw chicken breasts in crock pot and mix with the rest of ingredients and cook on low until chicken shreds.

The longer it simmers the better the flavor.
Try serving it with Corn Bread.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Kirkland Signature Whole Grain Nuggets

I love these chicken nuggets and more importantly so do my kids. I do not feel guilty feeding these to my kids on the nights when I need to have dinner ready in a hurry. They are made with white meat and the breading is whole grain. A healthier alternative to the fast food variety. These can be found at Costco. If you don't have a membership find a friend who does and add this item to your grocery list.
Here is how they compare to another leading brand-Tyson
Tyson bagged chicken nuggets have 270 calories/serving and 160 calories from fat where these have 210 calories/serving and only 80 from fat. You can look here to see the rest of the nutritional information on the Tyson bagged nuggets.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Brand Comparison of Macaroni & Cheese

I admit that when it comes to certain foods I'm a bit of a brand snob. You know as well as I do that some brands are just better than others. Macaroni and Cheese is a staple at my house with 4 kids. The blue box,Kraft macaroni and cheese, is the only brand for my kids. They love it and they can tell when I have switched brands. In attempts to either save some money or improve our diet I have recently bought 2 different brands of Mac and cheese in addition to Kraft. Here are our opinions.


Our #1 pick is still Kraft macaroni and Cheese. The reason, everyone in the house loves it. It has great cheesy flavor. My complaint is sometimes it can be grainy.








Our#2 pick is Great Value Thick & Creamy Macaroni and Cheese. This Wal Mart brand is a very close 2nd. This one may actually be my 1st choice but, my oldest does not like it. Maybe it is because she has more refined tastebuds. The other kids noticed a difference but were still willing to eat it. It is very creamy and I love how big the noodles get. It is made with real cheddar cheese and no artificial flavors. The price is great too. At my Wal Mart it was around 60 cents a box while the Kraft box is around $1.



Our #3 pick is Annie's Homegrown. I think if we had tried other brands this one would still be at the bottom. It sounds and looks good reading the box but unfortunately it also tasted like the box. Not even my 18 month old would have more than a bite. It was grainy and did not taste right. It is made with organic pasta and has no artificial anything. Sorry Annie's, I can't even think of a pro other than I used a coupon to get it so I didn't pay full price.


Here is how they compare nutritionally.
1 serving for all 3 was approximately 1 Cup prepared pasta.
The numbers below are before you add the milk and butter. So, just what is in the box.
Kraft, GV, Annie's
Calories: 260, 250, 270
Fat Calories: 30, 20, 35
Total Fat 3.5 g, 2g, 4g
Sat. Fat 2g, 1g, 2g

Great Value actually looks to be the healthier one too. Funny thing is, I bought Annie's because it was organic. For some reason I thought organic meant better for you. In this case it doesn't appear to be.
I would love to learn how to make homemade macaroni and cheese so, please email me your amazing homemade recipes: annewithany2@hotmail.com

Friday, September 18, 2009

Chicken Supreme Recipe

This is one of my favorite recipe's my mother made. It is very simple to make and my family eats it up. The original recipe calls for regular Onion soup mix but I made it once with Golden Onion and fell in love. The pictures below is the Golden Onion version.

Chicken Supreme


1 C. non-instant rice
Lipton Onion soup mix (can be golden)
1 can cream chicken soup
1 3/4 cans water
2 1/2 lbs frying chicken, cut into pieces (4 chicken breasts)

Grease flat-bottomed 9 x 13 -inch baking dish; add rice.
Sprinkle soup over rice.
Place chicken pieces on top.
Beat chicken soup and water together and pour over chicken.
Sprinkle with paprika. Bake uncovered for 1 hour at 350.

Enjoy!

If you have a recipe you would like to share please email me the recipe or a link to your blog and I will feature it on Spice and all That's Nice

Thursday, September 17, 2009

What Matters Most

Some days I feel like I spend more time looking at my computer screen than I do my own kids. How sad. It's time for me and you to fill our lives with what matters most and "never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved".

Establishing Financial Rules

If you find you are always arguing with your partner over spent money then it is time you establish some financial rules. It varies from family to family but my husband and I have found two that work really well or us.

Purchase Amount Limit Without Consultation. This is the amount of money either one of you can spend without discussing the purchase with the other person first. You could create a daily, weekly, or monthly amount. This does not include necessities like groceries. Obviously, the smaller your overall budget is for your house, the smaller this number will be. We have a really small income to work with so ours is around $20. Anytime there is something that my husband or I want to buy that isn't a necessity and that costs $20 or more we run it past each other.

24-Hour Rule. For purchases requiring a significant amount of money we always wait 24-hours before we make the purchase. During this time we each take a side, one pro and one con (even if we are both for it), and we each lay out our side. We look at all the positives and negatives so we can make a more educated decision. This rule also applies well for any impulse purchases. If there is something you find that you just have to have, wait 24 hours to see if you still "need" it. Most of the time you don't. Beware: Sales people hate this rule, especially those working off commission. I had a telemarketer tell me how stupid a rule that was. It is actually a smart rule if you are trying to stay out of debt.

These are the 2 rules that work for us. You may have more or different versions of ours. The key is to find what works best for you.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Removing Crayon from Unwanted Places


If you have children in your house you have or will experience crayon in unwanted places. I have had crayon on my walls, furniture, carpet, and clothing. My children aren't the only ones to blame. I accidentally washed a blue crayon with my clothes- blue crayon ended up all over the clothing. Do not try and vacuum up crayons either because they can become lodged in between the rotating brush and the vacuum and just spread crayon all over your carpet. So, should any of this happen, here is what you can do.

If you have crayon on walls, furniture, any hard surface the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser works magic. You just get it wet and wipe. I would test it on a small part of what you are cleaning first just to make sure it won't ruin it but I haven't had a problem yet. You can get a free sample here as well as read how other people use it.

On Carpet that is 100% polyester/rubber back/short pile spray it with a little WD-40 and then wipe clean with a soft cloth.

For Carpeting scrape off as much crayon as you can with a knife or a spoon. spray the area with WD-40 and let sit. Work the stain out with a stiff bristle brush and then rinse out with liquid dish detergent and water.

For clothing spray the area with WD-40 let stand and spray the other side. Apply liquid dish detergent and rub and work into a lather. Blot away the stain with paper towels. Wash clothing in hot water for 12 minutes with laundry detergent and color safe bleach.
If these tips don't work on your surface or you have a question about a particular surface or type of crayon you can visit Crayola and find a complete listing.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Debt Reduction and Elimination



"There are only two types of people who deal in interest--those who
understand it and those who do not understand it. Those who understand it,
collect it. Those who do not understand it, pay it." -Deseret News 1/9//93

There are several kinds of debt but most fall into these categories: consumer debt, educational debt, vehicle debt, and home mortgage. In June of 2007 the total US consumer debt, not including mortgages, was 2.46 trillion dollars. If you are one of the many Americans in debt, the time is now to get out of debt and find financial freedom. One way to get out of debt is to contact a company who specializes in eliminating debt. However, expect to pay them some money for this service. This may be a great method if you are so over your head in debt that you don't know what else to do. I recommend getting out of debt on your own by following these steps.

First, perform a little "plastic surgery" and cut up your credit cards. You might wish to keep one for emergencies but make sure it is only used for that. I have a friend who placed her credit card in a bag of water and then placed it in the freezer to ensure it was used only for emergencies. Only spend money that falls into your budget parameters and pay with cash. If you can't pay cash then don't buy it.

Next make a list of all of your current debt and include information like; total amount due, minimum monthly payment, and the interest rate. Now call all of the companies and ask them if they can give you a lower interest rate. Most people qualify for a rate lower than what they are getting so you need to ask.

The last thing to do is create a debt elimination plan/chart. I've created a sample on you can view here. Here is how it works. List your debts starting from the smallest one first to the largest one. Every month pay at least the minimum amount due. Once you pay off your smallest debt, add that minimum payment to the 2nd smallest debt. Once the 2nd debt is paid off apply that payment towards the next debt and so on. It is a snowball effect. The sum you pay towards a single debt increases but the total amount you pay towards all your debt remains the same. By following this method you will get out of debt faster. Once all your debt is paid off you can then place the total monthly payments you were using to pay off debt into your savings account. If you need this clarified more please ask and I will explain it. Looking at the sample chart here will help out too.

If you currently do not have debt congratulations! Please share with us how your family stays out of debt.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Balancing Work and Family Life


It has been a little crazy around here since school started and I'm trying to balance everything out. So after a week my life isn't completely balanced out yet but it is significantly better. For some of you, work might be paid work and for others, work is housework. No matter what your work is, you need to have balance so you can have a happier and healthier you.

First you need to set a goal. What is your ultimate goal for you? Is it to have a happy/healthy family? Is it to see your kids grow into successful adults? Is it to have a home that others will feel welcome in? As you make decisions think about your goal and ask yourself how your decision will impact your ultimate goal.

Next, you need to determine what your values are. A value is defined by relative worth, merit, or importance. Sometimes our values can conflict with each other. For example, you might value getting to work early but you also value seeing your child off to school. When you are faced with conflicting values, look at your goal and choose which value is more important and act accordingly.

Setting priorities and managing time are two of the most important aspects of achieving a balanced life. Determine what you need to accomplish and when and write it down. Keep organized. My biggest problem is prioritizing. I spend a lot of time working on things that don't move me closer to my end goal. You may have daily priorities, weekly priorities, monthly priorities, and yearly priorities. Sometimes you can combine a couple of priorities and manage time better. Two of my priorities are spend individual time with my children and fold laundry. I can accomplish both of these by having a child work with me to fold the laundry. My child learns a skill and we have time to communicate with each other. On occasion, I have conflicting priorities. I like to have my kitchen cleaned before I leave the house but some mornings I haven't got it done and I need to leave to Yoga class, another priority of mine. When this happens I have to look at my overall day and determine which priority will benefit me most for the day.

The last thing to remember is to just let go. We can't be supermom/dad all of the time. The last couple of weeks I've realized I was trying to do too much at once and needed to let go of something. I chose not to post new blog posts and instead used the time to catch up on some much needed housework. If you are a mother you know guilt. Don't feel guilty for letting something go to achieve more balance. It is a waste of energy and time.

When, not if, you find your life out of balance, take a step back, look at your overall goal, reassess things, and make adjustments. The sooner you do so the better off life will be for you and your family.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Emergency Preparedness

Last year events like hurricane Ike and the earthquake in China reminded how ill prepared I am for an emergency. Once upon a time I had a 72 hour kit for everyone in my family. That was back when we were a family of 3. We have since doubled our numbers and have all outgrown the clothing. It is time for me to update my family's emergency kits and plan. Here is what you can do to make sure your family is prepared.


  • Create an emergency plan for your family. The US Department of Homeland Security has created a downloadable one here.
  • It may be hard to make local phone calls so have an out of state emergency contact. Know the emergency plans for your schools and work places.
  • Create a 72-hour kit for each member of your family. To view a list of items to include go here.
  • Make copies of drivers licenses, passports, insurance policies, birth certificates, marriage certificate, any important documents you need to help facilitate getting things back in order. Keep these copies in your kit. (I want to keep a CD with photos I don't want to lose in my kit)
  • Make sure your kit can be transported easily inc as you have to walk. Back Packs are excellent containers. Once you have your kit together be sure to store it in a location that is easy to access with short notice.



Thursday, August 27, 2009

Creating a Personal Budget


For some the word “budget” is a dirty word that evokes negative feelings. Those who understand budgeting know that it is a word that can equal financial freedom. So, if you don’t already have a personal budget, here is what you need to do.

Figure out what your entire monthly income is. Include paychecks, bonus, tips, and any interest you may make. From this figure out what your yearly income is. Now you know what you have to work with. Creating a budget is much more enjoyable if you have a goal in mind. Maybe you want to save money for a down payment on a house, or a family vacation, or maybe it is just to eliminate some debt. So, create a goal and think of it as you work through your budget.


Now you need to make a list of all of your fixed expenses, anything that gets paid monthly. These are things like rent/mortgage, car payment, church/charity contributions, medical insurance, dental insurance, garbage, gas, electricity, natural gas, phone, water, etc.


Make a list of all your occasional expenses. Occasional expenses are the things that come less frequently than monthly but are paid on a regular basis. Examples are: car insurance, car registration, home insurance, life insurance, magazines, property taxes, vehicle inspections, etc. Don’t forget to include money for b-day presents, vacations, and Christmas. Then there are those wonderful variable expenses: Car maintenance/repair, dry cleaning, Home repairs, school fees, pictures, prescriptions, stamps, tires, yard supplies, etc.


Once you have all of these things listed, create a practice budget. Write down how much you propose to spend on each item. At the end of the month record how much you actually spent and compare the two. Did you spend more or less in certain areas? Was it feasible? Adjust your budget accordingly and now you are ready to start saving for your goal.


You can view a budget worksheet here. You can also download budget templates of all kinds from here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Keeping the Romance Alive


I think keeping the romance alive is something every couple struggles with at one point or another in their relationship. There comes a point where we just go through the routine of life, get up, go to work, take care of children, do the things around the house, and go to bed just to start it all over again. We get so caught up in our own lives and needs that we forget about our partners. If you find that you are at a point where you are not getting the romance you need stop and ask yourself if you are giving the romance your partner needs. Romance is reciprocal, you get what you give. When you get to a "dull" point try doing this:

Make a list of 10 things that your partner can do to show he/she loves you. Have your partner make a list too, of the things you can do for him/her. You will find that men and women feel loved in different ways. Men tend to feel love with physical expressions like a kiss, or embrace. Women tend to feel love by words like actually saying "I love you" and by actions like notes or a phone call.


Share your lists with each other and discuss why you put what you put on your list.
Make it a point everyday to pick at least one thing from your partner's list and fulfill it. Do not repeat the same thing more than once a week.


I promise you that as you do something every day for your spouse that shows them your love, you will receive the same and the romance in your life will increase. I have experienced it in my own relationship as well as seen it in those around me.

What are some of the ways you and your partner keep the romance alive?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Baked Ziti Recipe


This is one of my family’s favorite dinner dishes. My Aunt shared it with us almost 2 years ago and I’ve made it at least once a month ever since. It is perfect for when you have company because it makes 12 servings. It is super simple to make as well. We love it for the leftovers. I hope you will try it and enjoy it as much as we do.

Baked Ziti

1 lb. pasta- I use rigatoni
1 large red bell pepper chopped
1 large green bell pepper chopped
8 oz shredded white cheese (Monterey jack)
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp salt
28 oz. Canned diced tomatoes mostly drained
1 tsp. pepper

Add Later:
1 cup milk
1/2 cup bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350. Cook pasta in large amount of salted water according to package directions. Drain and rinse in cold water. Place pasta in large mixing bowl, and add remaining ingredients and stir well. Pour into large casserole dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Pour 1 cup milk over entire mixture. Cover and bake at 350 for 30 min. Remove and sprinkle with 1/2 C. bread crumbs and return to oven and bake for 30 minutes more uncovered. You can make it the night before; just add the milk right before baking.
Makes 12 servings.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Texting While Driving



It wasn't too long ago when I was driving to a store and received a text from someone. I retrieved it and then began to text a response when it dawned on me that I'm doing exactly what I gave my niece a hard time for doing. How easy it was to just start texting back. I immediately put my phone down and paid attention to my driving. Texting while driving is becoming more prevalent and so are the accidents caused by texting while driving. Many cities are now are trying to implement laws banning cell phone use/texting in cars. The following clip is what happened when a VIA bus driver in San Antonio, Texas decided to text while driving.



Many people are criticizing the following PSA about texting while driving as being too graphic to show teens. I personally don't believe it is. People need to see what the ramifications are.



What is so important that you need to text while driving? If you feel the need, pull over. The second you start to text you are no longer driving a vehicle, you are driving a weapon.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Common Childhood Illnesses


It's back to school time which for many means trips back to the doctor’s office. If you have a child who attends daycare or school, chances are good they are going to get sick with some common childhood illnesses. So, what are these illnesses? The following is a list of these illnesses (minus the stomach flu because I'm pretty sure we all know what that looks like) and what you should know about them.


  • Chickenpox- This is a virus that can spread easily by an infected person sneezing, coughing, sharing food and beverages or by touching the fluid in the open sores. A person can spread the virus before even knowing they have it. Signs/symptoms of chickenpox are, a fever, headache and sore throat. A red rash usually appears 1-2 days later. After exposure to the illness it usually takes 14-16 days to get the symptoms. When you have it you are no longer contagious once the blisters have all crusted over. People who are generally healthy don’t need to see the doctor and can treat it safely at home with Tylenol or Motrin to relieve the fever and anti-itch cream to help with the itch. There is now a vaccine to help prevent it.

  • Colds/respiratory problems- This is probably the most common childhood illness. There can either be upper respiratory problems (ears, nose, sinuses, and throat) or lower respiratory problems (in the lungs and bronchial tubes). Symptoms are earaches, stuffy or runny nose, sore throats, coughing, and a fever that increases rapidly. With lower respiratory problems you will see difficulty breathing, wheezing, deep coughing, and maybe a fever. Upper respiratory infections are usually viral and you can treat the symptoms but some are bacterial and require and antibiotic like ear infections and strep throat. Consistent hand washing can prevent this illness.

  • Fifths disease– This is also called “slap cheek disease” because you look like you have a slap mark across the face if you have it. This can be spread by coughing and sneezing. Early symptoms are flu like and this is when you are most contagious. Once the rashappears you are no longer contagious. You can view a picture here Not everyone gets the rash or flu like symptoms. This is a virus so there is no need to go to the doctor unless you like to. Treat the flu symptoms.*if you are pregnant you must see your doctor because this disease can cross the placenta barrier and affect the fetus.

  • Pinkeye- This is very common and goes away within 10 days without medical treatment. Symptoms are eye redness (hyperemia), swollen, red eyelids, more tearing than usual, feeling as if something is in the eye, an itching or burning feeling, mild sensitivity to light (photophobia), drainage from the eye. It can be prevented by frequent hand washing. You may need to see the doctor with this one to help determine if it is viral or bacterial. Viral will not need to be treated but bacterial will be.

These are just a few of the common illnesses our children are likely to face. Remember, with viral infections you don’t need to see the doctor and you treat the symptoms at home and with bacterial infections you need an antibiotic. If at any time you feel your child needs to see the doctor than get them in. It is better to be safe than sorry. If your child has a fever keep them home until they have not had a fever for 24 hours.
Please share your thoughts on any of the illnesses or any experiences you may have had with them.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Power of Vinegar


Oh, the power of distilled white vinegar. If you have white vinegar on hand there really is no other cleaning product you need. It is so acidic that it takes care of most bacteria and mold. Using vinegar eliminates all of the harsh chemicals other cleaners have making it green and safe to use in homes with children. There are so many uses but here are a few of my favorite.



  • Remove hard water deposits in your dishwasher and washing machine by running them every once in a while with a cup of distilled vinegar.

  • If you get lime build up around chrome sink fixtures you can remove it with a paste made of 2 tablespoons salt and 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar.

  • To rid your microwave of hard baked on food, place 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar and 1/2 cup water in a microwave-safe bowl inside your microwave and bring it to a rolling boil. You can now wipe it clean and odors will be gone.

  • Clean counter tops and make them smell sweet again with a cloth soaked in undiluted white distilled vinegar.

  • Deodorize the garbage disposal by pouring in 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup hot white distilled vinegar. Let sit for 5 minutes then run hot water down the disposal.

  • Rid a faucet of lime and Calcium deposits by tying a plastic bag containing 1/2 to 1/3 cup of white distilled vinegar around it and leaving it there for two or three hours. If mineral deposits don’t wipe off, scrubbing with an old toothbrush should complete the job.

  • To clean a scummy showerhead, pour 1/2 cup baking soda and 1 cup white distilled vinegar into a sandwich bag and tie it around the showerhead. Let this set for an hour after the bubbling has stopped. Remove the bag and then turn on the water.

  • Get cleaner laundry! Add about 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar to the last rinse. The acid in white distilled vinegar is too mild to harm fabrics, yet strong enough to dissolve the alkalis in soaps and detergents. Besides removing soap, white distilled vinegar prevents yellowing, acts as a fabric softener and static cling reducer, and attacks mold and mildew.

You can find these tips and a thousand more thanks to the folks at Vinegar Tips
Please leave a comment with your favorite vinegar tip. When you use one of these tips please be sure to let us know how it turned out.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Coupon Clipping


With the cost of living going up these days we all need to save money anyway we can. The use of coupons when buying groceries is one way to save a little money. I used to subscribe to a newspaper just so I could have access to all of the ads and coupons there but I got so tired of having to sort through all of the stuff I didn’t need so I canceled my subscription. I have recently discovered that I can get all of the coupons I need as well as all of the ads I’m interested in from online sources.


http://www.eversave.com/
At this website you can print grocery coupons, department store coupons, and get coupon codes for discounts at online stores.


http://www.bettycrocker.com/
This is a great sight that offers coupons for groceries as well as recipes and how to lessons.

http://www.memolink.com/
Memolink has tons of codes for great savings when you shop online. Memolink members earn points for visiting Websites, sampling products, playing trivia, completing marketing research surveys and making online purchases. Points can be exchanged for cash or gift cards, or donated to a charitable organization. It is free to join.

http://www.couponcabin.com/
CouponCabin has printable coupons for non grocery stores like JCPenney, Toys R Us, and Baskin Robbins just to name a few. They also have lots of code for discounts in online shopping.
If there is a particular grocery store you like to shop at most have a place where you can view their current ads and sign up to have them sent to your email address.
These are a few of my favorites. There are so many out there, please share with us the ones you have found.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Stinky Rags


There are few things I hate but I can honestly say that I hate grabbing a dishrag to wipe down a table or counter and having it have that horrible, awful smell. You know what I'm talking about. I thought everyone knew how to get rid of the smell but I was mistaken. I was at a family member’s house and went to help out with the dishes. I grabbed the dishrag that was already out and instantly my nose hairs curled. I got a clean one out of the drawer and got it wet and the stink was there as well. That smell my dear friends, is the smell of bacteria. If you wipe things with rags/sponges that smell you are only spreading the bacteria around. So, how do you get that smell out? Good old fashioned Bleach.

The first thing you want to do when you are finished using a rag is rinse it out good and if possible lay it out to dry completely. Have a designated place for dirty rags to go until you are ready to wash them so the germs/smell doesn’t get transferred to other items. I use the bucket you see above. It just sits in my laundry room and I throw all of my dirty rags and dish towels in it. You can get rid of the stink by using one of three ways.



  1. Fill up your sink with warm water, add some bleach (For the amount, follow instructions on the side of the bottle), then toss in your rags. This is one of my favorite methods because you also disinfect your sink at the same time.
  2. Fill up the bucket with warm water, add some bleach, and add the rags.
  3. Fill up your washing machine with the right amount of water, add the bleach and your regular detergent, and then add your rags.
    If you suffer from stinky rags, please, please, please, get rid of the smell, if not for you, for the people who can't stand the reek.

There may be other ways out there to make it so your rags don't stink. Please share your ideas with us.

Creamy Chicken Italiano

I apologize for no pictures but this really is a fabulous meal. It is my oldests favorite and she does a little dance everytime I make it.

Creamy Chicken Italiano

4 boneless, skinless chicken-breast halves
1 envelope dry Italian salad dressing mix
¼ C. water
8-oz pkg. cream cheese, softened
10 ¾ oz. can cream of chicken soup
4 oz. can mushroom stems and pieces, drained

Place chicken in slow cooker. Combine salad dressing mix and water. Pour over chicken. Cover. Cook on low 3 hours. Combine cheese and soup until blended. Stir in mushrooms. Pour over chicken. Cover. Cook on low 1 hour or until chicken juices run clear. Serve over noodles or rice.

Tortellini with Fresh Tomato Basil Sauce

Last summer I had an extended growing season where I live we enjoyed the fruits of our labor. My Roma tomato plant produced like crazy in the fall. All of those tomatoes were perfect for this dish. Unfortunately the fire ants won the battle this year so I haven't been able to enjoy it as much. For those of you who have a bumper harvest of tomatoes give it a try. I serve it hot the first day and then the leftovers we eat cold.




Tortellini with Fresh Tomato Basil Sauce

1 pkg. (20 oz) uncooked refrigerated cheese-filled tortellini
6-8
medium tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped (3 cups)
3 Tbsp. snipped fresh
basil leaves
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground black
pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, pressed
¼ C. (1 oz)
grated fresh Parmesan cheese.

Cook tortellini according to pkg. directions and drain. Meanwhile, core
tomatoes; cut tomatoes crosswise in half and remove seeds. Coarsely chop
tomatoes, place in small mixing bowl. Snip basil. Add basil, vinegar, salt and
pepper to tomatoes and mix gently. Heat oil over med. Add pressed garlic; stir 1
min. or until garlic is lightly browned. Remove from heat. Add tortellini and
tomato mixture; toss gently. Spoon the pasta into a serving bowl. Grate Parmesan
and sprinkle over pasta.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Read the Fine Print


You may have noticed that the packaging on some of your everyday items seems to be a little smaller but you are still paying the same price. Well, that is because it probably is smaller. Companies are changing their packaging sizes thus lessening the product amount yet the prices are remaining the same. They determined that they will lose more money by increasing the price on the item then they would by dropping the size slightly. A while back on the Today Show they talked about this and had a gentleman on who runs a website called MousePrint. At this site he exposes the fine print on everything from product packaging, ads, and coupons. I felt it was worth sharing so that you can see the "tricks of the trade" companies employ. I found this site very interesting and I'm sure you will too. The next time you go shopping check the fine print to make sure you are really getting a good deal.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Chicken Rolls/Pillows

I was able to try this recipe for the first time last year after I had my last baby. My cousin had made a bunch of these and then froze them and sent them over for me to bake and serve my family so I didn't have to prepare a meal for them. They were a big hit. I finally got around to making them myself. Pretty easy to throw together. I actually didn't have green onions so I used onion flakes. I also added in some celery seed. I used Italian bread crumbs too. So really, I substituted just about everything except the cream cheese, chicken, croissants, and egg. The cool thing is you can add whatever your family likes. I served them over rice and then drizzled Cream of Chicken soup that was slightly diluted over the top.



Chicken rolls (pillows)

4 C. cooked chicken, diced
8 oz softened cream cheese
2 Tbsp. Softened margarine
2 Tbsp. green onions, thinly sliced
1/8 tsp. garlic
1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp. salt
16 refrigerated crescent rolls
Pepperidge Farm dressing mix or crushed croutons
Melted butter for dipping

Mix first 7 ingredients thoroughly. Divide into 16 portions. Roll each
portion in a crescent roll. Dip in melted butter or margarine and then in
crushed seasoned croutons or Pepperidge Farm dressing mix. Bake them at 350 for
20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. These freeze well uncooked.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

How to Save Money While Dining Out


Dining out seems to be more of a luxury in these financial times no matter which restaurant you choose to go to. By the time you add up the cost of the food, the tip, and the baby sitter in some instances it can be a costly event. Here are some ways you can save money when you dine out.


  • First off, do not order an appetizer. If you feel you need to eat something before you go eat something at home. By not ordering and appetizer you can save anywhere from $5-$10. Plus, many restaurants offer bread or chips free of charge anyway.
  • Order water only. Adding drinks to your order will cost you anywhere from $2-$5 extra per person.
  • Eat dessert at home instead of ordering it. You can purchase and entire pie, cake, brownie for the cost of one little slice at the restaurant.
  • Consider purchasing one meal and sharing it with another. I do this with my children. Many restaurants are happy to bring you an empty plate. There are some which will charge you a small fee for the extra plate but it is better than paying for the whole meal.
  • Choose a dish that comes with all you can eat soup and/or bread. Eat this at the restaurant and then take home the main course for a meal the next day.
  • The time of day and the day of week you eat can save you money. Most places have a less expensive lunch menu. Some places have higher prices on the weekend so eat mid week instead.
  • If you are taking children with you choose a restaurant where kids eat free with a purchasing adult. Not sure where to look to find these deals? Check out My Kids Eat Free for a listing of your local restaurants or check out this site for a listing of National chain restaurants where kids eat free.
  • Take coupons with you to pay for your food. Did you know that at Restaurant.com you can get gift cards for local restaurants for a fraction of the price of their value. For example, you can get a $25 Melting Pot gift card for $10. There sometimes are minimum purchase amounts though, so read the fine print.
  • Ordering items as carry out saves money on tips and allows you to eat anywhere you want to, like a park.

By following one or all of these tips you will save some money but still enjoy the benefits of dining out.

Leave a comment and let me know how you save money eating out.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Post Tonsilectomy Advice


I'm currently experiencing my second bout of Strep throat this summer and it is making me think I might need to get my tonsils out. 16 months ago my husband and 6 year old daughter got their tonsils taken out. Thinking about that time makes me cringe at the thought of getting mine out although both of them say they are glad they did it. I did learn a few things from their experience that I'm going to share.



  1. Children have an easier time recovering than adults.

  2. Taking the pain medication every 4 hours or whatever is directed is a must, even if you have to wake up in the middle of the night to take it. So much easier to stay ahead of pain then to catch up.

  3. Keeping the throat moist with water helps because when it dries it gets itchy and hurts.

  4. Don't serve Popsicles-serve ice cream instead. It hurt my family to stick their tongue out to lick the Popsicle and it hurt to suck.

  5. Warm foods hurt. Serve room temperature or cold soft foods.

  6. Drink Ensure or Pediasure if you it hurts too much to eat. You will get some vitamins and nourishment your body needs to recover.

  7. Stay hydrated. To help my daughter be motivated to drink when she didn't want to I would draw a line on the water bottle and when she drank down to that mark I would give her a reward. Rewards included time on the computer, a movie, a new book, etc.

  8. When they tell you to wait 2 weeks or whatever time it is before you can eat harder foods wait that amount of time even if you feel like you can handle it. My husband learned the hard way.

  9. It doesn't matter how many different flavors you make, you will get sick of Jello and pudding by the end of the 2nd day.

  10. Don't schedule tonsillectomies for family members anywhere near your pregnancy due date. I gave birth the day after. Fortunately my Parents were in town for 3 weeks to help out.

  11. Be patient. It takes time for your body to heal.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Remove Blood Stains


I came across a useful tip to remove blood from laundry. Put some hydrogen peroxide on it. And, now that you can buy hydrogen peroxide with a spray nozzle it makes it even easier. Just keep a bottle of it in your laundry room and when you come across some blood, spray, scrub, rinse, and wash.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

House Fires Started by Candles

All you need to do is a google search for house fires started by candles and you will see what a serious problem this is. In 2002, 18,000 fires were started from candles.
Candles can also burn children and pets who get to close to the flame or wax.
There has been an increase in candle use because they are used for more then just candle lit dinners now. Who can resist having something that will make your home smell like you've been baking all day or that you just walked into a garden?

There is a company that has created a product that eliminates the use of candles but provides the same benefit of decorating with candles and providing great fragrances with out a flame.

The company is called Scentsy and they have created a wick less candle. They use a food-grade petroleum based wax that has a low melt point and can hold a lot of scent. It works by placing the wax in a Scentsy Warmer which uses a 25 watt light bulb to which melts the wax and releases the fragrance. There is no sooty mess, or wick which eliminates the fire hazards associated with candles. The wax does not get hotter than a typical paraffin wax dip so little fingers will not get burned.

In addition to no flame I also like the fact that they have over 80 Scentsy fragrances and over 50 warmers to meet any decorative need. If I want to change the scent I just need to pour the melted wax back into the container it came in, wipe out the warmer with a paper towel, and then add the wax of the fragrance I want. The wax I had previously used can be used again and I don't have to mess with storing a bunch of bulky candles.

If this sounds like a product you would be interested in having or selling then you are in luck. I recently signed up to become an Independent Scentsy Consultant. You can purchase your wick less candles at my Scentsy website. While you are there, check out the business opportunity. I think you will love selling the product just as much as you love owning it. I know I do.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cardiovascular Exercise


Cardiovascular Exercise is one of the most common forms of exercise. There are so many different forms of cardiovascular exercise it is easy to find one just right for you and your exercise needs. It is named cardiovascular exercise because the most important muscle that benefits from it is your heart. Cardio can lower your blood preasure, increase circulation, and significantly lower your risks of cardiovascular disease. Some other benefits are and increased metabolic rate (the rate at which your body burns calories), burning calories, and improved mood. To get the best results from cardio exercise you want to do a gradual warm up to get the blood flowing and then keep your heart rate elevated for at least 20 minutes and then slowly bring it back down.

Here are some excellent cardiovascular exercises.


  • Walking is one of the best forms because pretty much anyone can do it. You do not need special equipment other than a good pair of shoes. For people who are really over weight it is a good starting point.

  • Jogging/Running is the next step after walking. You burn calories faster while jogging and running.

  • Swimming is perfect for people who have bad backs and knees and for those who are overweight. The water helps support the weight so there is not as much pressure on joints. It is a total body workout to swim laps.

  • Aerobics is a fun way to get exercise. Coordinated movements to music is fun and really gets you moving. It can be done on a flat surface or you can incorporate weights and steps into it.

Don't forget to stretch following your cardiovascular exercise. Find something that works for you and most importantly, have fun.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Strawberry Spinach Salad

I attended a luncheon this weekend and my friend served this delicious salad.

Strawberry Spinach Salad


1/2 lb pre washed spinach

1/2 lb torn romaine1 pt strawberries, sliced

1/2 cup of sugar toasted pecans or prepackaged sugared sliced almonds (found in the produce section)

1 1/2 cup of grated Swiss cheese

sliced red onion-however much you'd like


dressing:

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 - 1 cup oil

1/3 c red wine vinegar

1tbsp minced onion

1tsp dried mustard

1/4 tsp salt

1 tbsp poppy seeds